Tempe Chamber of Commerce honors Copperheads

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kelly Deitloff
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
The Tempe Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee recognized this year's recipients of the Truman Young and Donald Plough Memorial Awards during a ceremony here Oct. 14.

Master Sgt. Jesse Bautista, the wing's assistant inspector general superintendent, received the Tech. Sgt. Donald Plough award, and Lt. Col. Denise Sweeney, 161st Security Forces Squadron commander, received the Maj. Truman Young award.

Referred to as the "Truman/Plough Award," the Military Affairs Committee recognizes one outstanding enlisted member and one outstanding officer in memory of the award's namesakes. The award was established to honor Maj. Truman Young, a pilot, and Tech. Sgt. Donald Plough, a boom operator, who were killed when their KC-135, call sign Copper 5, was hit in a mid-air collision and crashed on March 13, 1982.

They served honorably in the Arizona Air National Guard with the 161st Air Refueling Wing and it is with humble devotion to their memory, and the memory of the entire Copper 5 crew, that the committee recognizes two professionals who best reflect Truman and Plough's dedication to duty, said Col. Chris Triebel, the wing's vice commander.

Award winners are selected for exhibiting exceptional duty performance and military bearing, fostering esprit de corps through teambuilding, and for motivating and mentoring others.  In addition, they must demonstrate total dedication to the mission, and loyalty and devotion to country as they completely embody the Air Force core values. Their performance must exceed standards and they be involved in their community. 

Bautista was nominated for his outstanding work on the inspector general team. During the last year he was recognized by the Air Mobility Command IG team for benchmark commanders inspection program initiatives. He was requested by name to serve as an AMC associate inspector, and he spearheaded self-assessment program manager courseware development.

Bautista also served as the command chief's advisor, activities director for family day, co-chaired the combat dining-in and was the wing's first pick to attend the Air Force's Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy in-residence. Due to being at the academy, his wife, Jocelyn accepted the award on his behalf.

Sweeney was nominated for her accomplishments as the security forces commander. Her unit was named Security Forces Squadron of the Year for the Air National Guard in 2014.  Sweeney balanced in-garrison force protection with exercises, inspections, and worldwide contingencies, to include back-to-back mobilizations for her unit.
"It is humbling to be associated with the award. To be a Copperhead and then to receive the recognition - I'm very thankful," Sweeney said.